Relief pours in to Washington, Ill.
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 04:59:47 GMT —
Josh Edwards tells a story that is now all too familiar in Washington.
"There was a big funnel cloud just starting to form out there, you can see the path of destruction - and the speed that it moved in was stunning, it was incredible. It's just like they describe it in the movies - it's like a freight train and you just hear this buzzing sound. The air pressure dropped, your ears popped, the door popped open," Edwards said just a day after his home was leveled by Sunday's tornado.
Just as quickly as the storm came into town, it was gone - along with all of the Edwards family possessions.
"It was stunning, yeah. It was incredible," he added.
But it wasn't long before the Red Cross was on site preparing for a massive relief effort.
"Our main disaster is usually a house fire so something of this magnitude really puts us to the test," Tracy Johnston, on-site representative for the American Red Cross said.
With five area Red Cross offices responding, plus countless other volunteers from around the area, a church not far from the disaster was designated as the relief center. Here, residents can grab a meal, speak with insurance representatives, and even if only for an hour or so, get away from the painful reminders of home.
"A lot of people have been very generous in the community and have opened their homes and churches, so a lot of people are staying in the shelters," Johnston said.
According to Johnston, the food and water distribution is the agency's biggest task. But the Red Cross doesn't stop there - bins of toys had been set up for children at the relief center, while clothing donations were being accepted from all over. It will take time to assess just how much these people have lost, but the Red Cross will be there for all of it.
"We stay until we're needed," Johnston said.
For now, Washington is a front page headline. But so is the outpouring of support to those in need.